Many studies have reported that dog ownership is effective in encouraging physical activity. However, the association between living with a dog and enhanced physical activity has not been clearly verified. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the effects of dog ownership on the amount of physical activity in a representative sample of Korean adults.
This cross-sectional study administered the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) to 1,299 individuals who visited the international healthcare center of one hospital in Seoul, Korea, between August and December in 2018. Based on responses to the IPAQ survey, the amount and duration of physical activity was calculated to analyze relationships with dog ownership.
The total amount (P=0.02) and duration of physical activity (P=0.02) and the duration of vigorous-intensity physical activity (P=0.04) were significantly higher among dog owners than non-dog owners. The duration of daily physical activity increased with dog ownership by 18.6 minutes (P=0.01). A comparison of dog owners according to whether they walked with their dogs revealed that dog walking had no significant effect on the amount and duration of physical activity, inactivity, or health-enhancing physical activity status. There was a sex-specific association between dog ownership and total duration of physical activity in females.
The duration of physical activity increased by dog ownership. However, the higher levels of physical activity among dog owners may not necessarily be explained by dog ownership or walking with dogs. This outcome suggests that raising a dog can help promote physical activity.